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Augustines, Liquid Rooms, Edinburgh

  • Written by  Alex Watt


Photo by Julia Schtri.

The farewell tour of a great live band means the audience tonight arrive with mixed emotions. Many want to scream about the injustice of it all. One of the most uplifting live music experiences are set to leave the stage, as the economics of being a touring band do not add up to a life for them.

Though the audience are subdued initially, the band seem determined to be upbeat. The first couple of numbers warm them up. Lead singer, Billy McCarthy, goes to the side of the stage to shake himself between them, obviously winding himself up for a launch into some older audience favourites like 'Chapel Song', 'Juarez' and 'Book Of James'. These combined with Billy’s exhortation to not be down get the crowd singing along with familiar and heart-felt lyrics about embracing and surviving loss. The poignancy of this is lost in the moment as the room begins to jump.

The set contains a wide range of the emotions from some funked up styling during band banter between songs to a quieter version of 'Philadelphia (The City Of Brotherly Love)' to an a cappella serenade by Billy swigging out of a wine bottle to keep his lips wet. Then, there is a version of 'Walkabout' where sadness seems to finally get through to Billy as his voice cracks. But the band’s determination to get the fans out on a high overcomes this and the last encore is a rousing version of 'Cruel City' that completed the night with Billy down in the crowd bawling out the lyrics and bouncing up and down.

This gig was a roller-coaster. There were the double-edged emotions of the songs combined with the knowledge that this was the last night of Augustines uplifting music therapy for those there. There was the band’s playfulness with each other and then with the audience as keyboard player Eric got the audience to practice mindfulness as the gig moved to its final few encore songs. (They had such command of the room that they really did stop playing and get silence for the audience to take two slow deep breaths where all that could be heard was the whisper of air moving in and out of lungs.) There were the familiar songs that the fans lustily sang along with and the raucous love for life that Augustines exude.

Damn, it’s over.

Further images from the gig can be found here.

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